Archive for July, 2013

Addendum on mentoring

When I was contemplating running for Chair of my department a number of years ago, I consulted my mentor at Kwantlen, David Wiens, asking him whether I’d be any good at this position. “You would,” he said.

I asked him why, expecting him to pay homage to my brilliant analytical and people skills.

“You like to work hard,” he said, and left it at that.

It was the best thing he could have said. David was a really good mentor.

Some notes on mentoring …

… can be found over on basil.CA sister site NoContest.CA here and here and here. They are mostly based on the superb presentation given by Erin Dick at the International Association of Business Communicators World Conference in Manhattan last month.

To be honest, I had intended on *missing* this presentation, believing there was little for me to learn on the topic. In a spasm of self-awareness, though, I understood that my reluctance to go was based on arrogance – and arrogance means that I had grown too comfortable with my ways. I wondered, too, why I seemed afraid to subject myself to new insights on a theme so dear to my heart.

Fear can lead to poor mental hygiene.

I forced myself to attend by making a promise to do so to my friend Sarah Jackson, a fearless young journalist who herself will become a wonderful mentor one day. I am glad I went. I learned a ton – and found I have lots to work on.



Burning Books

It’s been slim-pickings here of late, as I spent most of the last couple of weeks on the road back east in New York City (to attend the annual conference of the International Association of Business Communicators) and the Buffalo area (to visit family). It was a wonderfully worthwhile trip in all respects, though I must admit I do not travel as well as I used to; several times I woke up not knowing the time-zone or country I was in (and I somehow lost a pair of pants).

In Buffalo I took my son to a new bookstore called “Burning Books,” which is located in a beautiful neighborhood on the city’s lower west side now populated by a number of Burmese immigrants. Only two days ago the store’s owner, Leslie James Pickering, was profiled in a New York Times story. Pickering had discovered the United States Postal Service was monitoring his mail.

From the story:

“It was a bit of a shock to see it,” said Mr. Pickering, who with his wife owns a small bookstore in Buffalo. More than a decade ago, he was a spokesman for the Earth Liberation Front, a radical environmental group labeled eco-terrorists by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Postal officials subsequently confirmed they were indeed tracking Mr. Pickering’s mail but told him nothing else. As the world focuses on the high-tech spying of the National Security Agency, the misplaced card offers a rare glimpse inside the seemingly low-tech but prevalent snooping of the United States Postal Service.


At Burning Books my son and I purchased the documentary “When A Tree Falls,” which profiles the Earth Liberation Front in a subtle and even-handed manner, as well as some literature critiquing the powers that be from a number of left-wing and anarchist perspectives. The big find in that regard was a cool collection of essays published by CWC Books called “Work.”

From the publisher’s website: “After so much technological progress, why do we have to work more than ever before? How is it that the harder we work, the poorer we end up compared to our bosses? When the economy crashes, why do people focus on protecting their jobs when no one likes working in the first place? Can capitalism survive another century of crises? Our newest book, entitled Work, addresses these questions and a great many more. To answer them, we had to revisit our previous analysis of employment and develop a more nuanced understanding of the economy. We spent months studying obscure history and comparing notes about how we experience exploitation in our daily lives, slowly hammering out a grand unified theory of contemporary capitalism.”

It is worth reading.